Yale Physics Olympics: Team Challenges for High School Students

The 10th annual Yale Physics Olympics for secondary school students and their teachers will provide in a full day of physics — rather than physical — challenges beginning at 10 a.m. on Saturday, October 20. Faculty demonstrations and an awards ceremony will follow the competition at 2:30 p.m.

“Using a only simple equipment and lots of imagination, teams compete to design and carry out solutions to a set of five experimental problems, some in indoor laboratories of the Sloane Physics building and some outside in the Kline Tower Quadrangle,” said Peter Parker, professor of physics and astronomy at Yale, who coordinates the program. “The theme of our event is ‘Physics is fun!’ We hope the participants enjoy themselves while applying basic ideas from physics in a practical context and at the same time learn some new physics during the day.”

Student and faculty volunteers create and manage each of the specific events. “Many of these volunteers are only a year or two older than the competing students and are terrific role models,” said Parker.

This year Yale will host 50 teams of 4 students each from 40 schools; participants are from Connecticut, Rhode Island and New York. Some schools even bring alternate team members and “observers” as a way to involve more students — perhaps training them for a coming year.

“This program has clearly had a very positive impact on the students, teachers, and schools involved, and in 2003 it was recognized in an Elm-Ivy award,” said Parker. “Each year we work with 200 to 250 very enthusiastic students, along with their teachers and many parents.”

So that the program can be as accessible as possible, there is no registration fee for participants. The program is supported by funds from the Yale Physics Department and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Further information is available online at http://www.yale.edu/physics/physics-olympics/ or by contacting Peter Parker at 203-432-3099 or peter.parker@yale.edu.

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Media Contact

Janet Rettig Emanuel: janet.emanuel@yale.edu, 203-432-2157